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Leroy Springs Swimming Pool

July 2013

On the Presbyterian College campus, the July heat brings back memories of the Leroy Springs swimming pool.

Dr. Davison M. Douglas, the ninth president of Presbyterian College, believed in the importance and value of physical activity as a part of the educational process. In 1913, the third year of his tenure, the football and basketball programs were started on campus. After WWI, the PC student body had grown to approximately 150 students and plans were made by Douglas to build a dormitory, a dining hall, and a gymnasium.

Colonel Leroy Springs, a Lancaster, S.C. cotton manufacturer and close personal friend of Dr. Douglas, donated $100,000 for the construction of a gymnasium. It was planned by gymnasium experts to include the latest design concepts for sports facilities and it became a reality in 1924. Enthusiastic students dedicated their next yearbook in honor of the donor. (Ben Hay Hammet, The Spirit of PC, 42)

Springs Gymnasium with pool site
Springs Gymnasium with pool site


Dr. Douglas defended the high cost of the gymnasium in an Atlanta Constitution article on January 21, 1923, stating. . .

“The cost of the gymnasium will be greater than that of the dormitory because while a college may build, in the course of time, several dormitories, it will have but one gymnasium and it should be [built] for all time.”

In 1929, Colonel Springs made another gift to the college, and a regulation swimming pool was built adjacent to the gymnasium. It was completed at a cost of approximately $50,000 and was considered one of the finest pools in the South. At the time it was built, it was the only indoor pool on a college campus. [Postcard History Series: Laurens County, Arcadia, 2007, 85]

The Swimming Team, The Pac Sac, 1933, p.106

The Swimming Team, The Pac Sac, 1933, p.106

The June 1929 issue of the Quarterly Bulletin of the Presbyterian College of SC stated that the “beautiful swimming pool being added to Springs Gymnasium would be ready for use September first, 1929.” That November, the new pool complex was dedicated on Thanksgiving day during Homecoming festivities.

In 1933, the Pac-Sac yearbook reported that a swimming team had been added to the intercollegiate sports lineup on campus. Coach Walter A. Johnson was responsible for adding the new sport and the first swimming meet was scheduled on March 7 of that year against Furman.

After the construction of Templeton Physical Education Center in 1974, Springs Gymnasium was primarily used for intramural sports. In 1984 a massive renovation of Springs Gymnasium and Pool, connected the two buildings forming Springs Campus Center.   Windows along the first floor allowed one to look from the pool into the campus center, canteen, and bookstore. An open area on the opposite side provided space for sunbathing.

Springs Pool after 1984 renovation

Springs Pool after 1984 renovation

In 2008, Springs Campus Center was once again renovated. Offices of the Student Life staff were moved from Douglas House to the upper floors of Springs, the bookstore was relocated to uptown Clinton, the food service area was expanded, and the mosaic tile pool was drained and covered over with flooring in order to provide a spacious exercise center for the college. The pool remains below the floor of the exercise center where one can still get a glimpse of the “shallow end” through the flooring.

Shallow end

Click the images to enlarge. Also please note that the Presbyterian College Magazine, The Blue Stocking, and The Pac Sac have been digitized and are available for online viewing at the Internet Archive.